Providing Legal Services for Seniors
It’s often said that getting older is a gift, but that doesn’t mean that everything after retirement is perfect. Seniors face unique challenges, and it’s important to have legal representation from a law firm that understands elder law issues and can provide assistance with any difficulties that may arise. Knowing what to prepare for as you age can ensure that you take the necessary steps to plan for the future so you can enjoy your golden years without worry.
Elder law attorneys have specific experience helping senior clients with legal issues, ranging from understanding public benefits and navigating Medicaid planning to preparing customized and comprehensive estate plans. Call MMZ Law to find out how we can help with your elder law needs.
What Is Elder Law?
Elder law is defined by the National Elder Law Foundation as “the legal practice of counseling and representing older persons and persons with special needs, and their representatives about the legal aspects of health and long-term care planning.”
Simply put, this means that attorneys who offer elder law services are devoted to helping older adults and those with special needs ensure with planning for their futures and addressing any legal concerns that arise. Elder law is often closely tied to probate law matters. Here are some examples of elder law cases:
- Will creation
- Setting up and administering trusts
- Counsel regarding health care planning, including Medicaid programs like Medi-Cal
- Housing rights issues
- Guardianships and conservatorships
- Long-term care planning
- Asset protection
- Financial planning
In some cases, elder abuse and especially financial elder abuse can also fall into the elder law category, but this depends on the attorney.
What Are Some Estate Planning Considerations for Seniors?
Estate planning doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is important to ensure that you’re thinking about and planning for everything important. For seniors, this is likely to include the following.
- Distribution of assets
- Providing for dependents with special needs
- Long-term care planning
- Advance directives
- Power of attorneys
- Multigenerational planning
- Charitable giving
- Minimizing estate taxes
Every person’s situation is unique, which is why it’s important to get legal counsel from an experienced elder law attorney that’s customized to your circumstances and goals.
How Does Medi-Cal Work?
Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program for low-income people, including seniors. There are a few different Medi-Cal plan types, but it is possible to have a plan that pays for your health care costs, including long-term care or in-home care, without having to pay any deductibles or copays. Medi-Cal does have specific income limits that you have to meet in order to qualify. In the past, there were also asset limits, but these were removed as of 2024.
Before you apply for Medi-Cal, it’s a good idea to talk with an attorney who offers elder law services because there are important provisions to be aware of. For example, in some cases, Medi-Cal will seek repayment from the estate after someone who has received Medi-Cal benefits has died.
This is a complicated process that depends on what assets were subject to probate and what type of expenses Medi-Cal paid for. An elder law attorney with experience in Medi-Cal planning can help you understand whether you could be subject to estate recovery and how to protect your assets.
What Happens If I Don’t Make an Estate Plan?
Estate planning is important for everyone, but less than half of Americans currently have an estate plan. Not making an estate plan can have several negative consequences for you and your family members who may be beneficiaries of your estate. These include:
- Having less control over what happens to your assets after your death
- Increased risk of disputes among beneficiaries
- Paying more estate taxes than necessary
- Medical decisions being made for you that don’t line up with your wishes
- Accidental disinheritanceDelays in probate
People often think that they don’t need an estate plan or even a will if they don’t have high-value assets or a great deal of property to pass on, but this isn’t the case. Even those with small estates can be at risk of the above complications without an estate plan. If you need legal assistance regarding estate planning or have questions about whether your current estate plan is adequate, contact a practicing law attorney, such as the team at MMZ Law.
Why Should I Work With an Experienced Elder Law Attorney?
Elder law is complex, and it’s a wide category that covers a variety of situations and legal services. Whether you are dealing with estate plan creation or financial planning, it’s important to work with an attorney who has experience successfully helping clients through these same issues.
Elder law attorneys have specialized knowledge of the laws governing issues like Medicaid planning and guardianships and are able to provide tailored estate planning assistance. Working with an attorney also ensures that you have the most up-to-date legal advice when it comes to issues that may change, such as whether asset limits apply to Medi-Cal.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, hiring an experienced attorney to help with your elder law needs provides peace of mind that you’ve planned for the future, including after you are no longer here. This allows you to live out the rest of your life with the people and activities you enjoy instead of worrying about what the future may hold.
When you need the help of an elder lawyer attorney, call MMZ Law at 909-347-7444. We offer consultations where you can find out more about the elder law services we provide and how to ensure that your legal needs are covered.